28 Apr 2019 | Theresa Goodwin
In another few days, the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis and Montserrat will commemorate a very significant milestone in the history of the life of the church.
The South Leeward Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, which is the umbrella body for the Seventh-day Adventist churches in the five islands, will transition from a mission to a conference. This comes a year after the church celebrated its 130th year of Adventism in Antigua.
In a detailed interview, president of the South Leeward Mission, Pastor Dr Carson Greene, outlined that transitioning from a mission to a conference is an important step in the development of the work of the church. He added that in layman's terms, "this signifies the growth of a child from infancy to adulthood". Prior to becoming part of a mission in 2011, the territory that makes up the South Leeward Mission was a part of the North Caribbean Conference.
"In the Seventh-day Adventist Church's organisational structure, a mission is an intermediate level generally used for new groupings and in cases or situations where there is no significant human capital for self-governance".
"When a Mission is sufficiently matured, it transitions to conference status. A mission really indicates that we are dependent, to a certain extent, on the larger organisation. When we become a conference, it shows that we are matured sufficiently, we have enough financial resources and leadership development so that we can manage on our own", Greene said.
The transition from the South Leeward Mission to the South Leeward Conference will take place between May 1 to May 3 when the Seventh-day Adventist church hosts the inaugural session of the South Leeward Conference. The inaugural session takes place during the organisation's quadrennial session which will be held in Antigua and Barbuda at the Parham Seventh-day Adventist Church.
This session is held every four years where delegates from the churches come together, in a business session, to select leaders for the various departments and ministries within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
"In the structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have several departments. We have a department for Education, Family Ministries, Youth Ministries, Communication, Personal Ministries, Sabbath School, and Community Services that deals with outreach and other responses", Greene said.
He further stated that "Now that we are becoming a conference, it is a regular quadrennial session, but we are also transitioning. For the first time in South Leeward's history, the delegates who are meeting in session will have the privilege of not just selecting the departmental directors and the executive committee, but also the administrators".
This quadrennial session will feature delegates who have been selected from each church across the five islands, who will represent their congregations at the business sessions.
According to Greene, the conference will also see representation from every level of the larger organisations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. All the presidents from nine other fields of the Caribbean Union as well as representatives from the Inter-American Division will be present.
What is the significance of the transition to the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?
Dr Greene said, as a conference, the organisation will take the lead in ensuring that the mission of the church is continued with the goal of serving humanity and organising the congregations in a way that will make them become more effective in providing a place for worship and also being centres where they can serve the communities."We put a lot of emphasis also on community outreach, we have a Community Services department and in addition to responding to the humanitarian need in our society and disasters, we are focused on the development and as a conference, we will be coordinating all of that. While we preach the gospel, we also have the practical dimension of the gospel", Dr Greene said.
The president also concluded by stating that transitioning to conference status will be seamless because the Mission was already performing duties as a conference way ahead of the official ceremony.
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